What Type of a Project Manager Are You?

The confrontation between managers and the rest of the team is a widespread phenomenon. It always has been, and hardly ever the situation will be changed in the nearest future. However, the problem is not that developers are all highly organized and autonomous enough to work without additional control. They usually are not. Moreover, right management does wonders even in a weak team. So, what’s the problem then? Why do so many managers not enjoy the favor of employees and show poor results when they have the best conditions to flourish?

Project Managers

4 main types of management styles

All managers have a unique technique of handling their duties. It includes routine tasks of planning, prioritizing, and organizing work efforts to achieve goals. The various ways of dealing with these tasks are called management styles. Amount of control over employees, the degree of freedom of actions, levels of accountability and management structures determine the quality and speed of decision-making, loyalty and development of the team in the process of work. Loosen control, and it may turn out that developers are doing something wrong. Try to keep track of everything and everybody, and the productive process will be blocked by the bureaucracy machine.

Developers often don't see the positive effect of the project management while everything is going well. While the negative impact is noticeable at once. Wasting of their time on frequent meetings, a lack of resources, an interference in their work cause conflicts, turnover and reduce performance of the whole team. The ability to balance between the needs of the environment, the team and the company is the most important ability of a good manager. Choosing a wrong behavior strategy and an unsuitable management style can cost businesses billions each year.

All management styles can be categorized by 4 major types. None of them is the best or worst choice, although anyone can contribute to or hinder the achievement of goals under the appropriate conditions. The essence of these styles is intuitively understandable, and everyone probably met them at work and the everyday life.

1. Authoritative

In this management style, you are dealing with an "I-know-better" manager. Employees do exactly what they are told to do. The order and the way of actions are clearly defined, any deviations from the template and initiative are minimized. Managers do not take into consideration the ideas and suggestions of the subordinates. Variations of the style are:

  • Autocratic, coercive, or directive
  • Persuasive, or paternalistic
  • Exploitative, or visionary

If a manager is experienced enough, this type of management can lead to a fast decision-making process and stable team work. Conflicts and long disputes are excluded, since only one person is responsible for making decisions. The style is suitable in times of crisis when time is limited. It has also been successfully applied in conservative areas and organizations, where stability comes first. But it should be avoided as a permanent solution in IT projects since it leads to staff dissatisfaction and turnover. In addition, this approach prevents not only the full use of the experience and talents of team members, but also hampers the development of their skills.

Authoritative management

2. Democratic

This style's name speaks for itself. In a democratic type of management, leaders let employees engage in decision-making process. There also are some variations:

  • Consultative, or coaching
  • Participative, or pacesetting
  • Collaborative, or affiliative

All decisions are making together with the whole team by the majority. The communications go from both managers down to employees and from employees up to managers. The initiative and interest in the entire work process are encouraged by management. This style allows to fully use abilities of team members, make more conscious decisions, increase confidence in management among developers. On the other hand, the democracy slows down decision-making and can cause conflicts between employees. In addition, it is not effective when employees are not very experienced and need a strict supervision. The democratic management style assumes that the developers are independent enough and they do not need to explain each step, but only to set the main direction and project goals.

Democratic Management

3. Laissez-Faire

A laissez-faire (or delegative) style is the complete opposite of authoritative one. In this case, employees are allowed to make the majority of decisions on their own without discussion with managers, who are more interested in the results than in the implementation process, and do not interfere with the work while everything is going well. This style of management is popular in startups and technology companies, where independence and creativity are highly encouraged. However, not every team and situation are appropriate for such freedom of action.

Laissez-Faire Delegative Management

4. Self-Managed Teams

In a bossless, or self-managed team (SMT), there is no management per se. All decisions are being made by all team members in the interests of the team and the project, and nobody has a casting vote. This approach can be dangerous and, in case of failure, lead to the collapse of the whole project. The organization of such a team requires maximum efforts and high qualifications from all participants. Nevertheless, in case of success, such a team makes the most high-quality decisions, and is the most favorable environment for work. Often such teams use together with other types of management, when circumstances allow.

Self-Managed Team

As a result, we distinguish the following types of leaders:

  1. The Commander
  2. The Advisor
  3. The Controller
  4. The Observer

Other styles and practices

However, we could remember dozens of other types of management in case of selection by other criteria, each with its own pros and cons. For example:

  • Inspirational management style
  • Results-Based management style
  • Example-Setting management style
  • Strategic management style
  • Cultural management style
  • Extroverted (charismatic) management style
  • Political management style
  • Administrative management style

Beside management styles, there are many project management practices which also define the final results. For example, management by walking around (MBWA) as a widespread management practice. It assumes that managers don’t lock themselves in cabins, instead they interact with employees closely to find out their concerns and suggestions, stay aware of what is happening around them. Their excessive attention can be irritating to developers, but it also allows managers to respond in time to problems and disruptions in the workflow.

Each team is unique and requires a special solution. An approach that works well with a full-time team, may be inefficient for managing freelancers. A remote team also requires specific approaches. Be flexible, look for your own methods of management and share them with colleagues. Listen to your team when their experience can be valuable, but do not be limited to it.

Which style does your team need?

Different management styles can vary within a company and even a team to meet the changing market conditions and other factors. A good manager is one that can adjust his management style to different environments and employees. Internal factors that determine a management style include, but are not limited to, policies, priorities, and corporate culture, staff skill levels and motivation, and management structures. For instance, experienced and motivated employees do not need any additional control or detailed instructions, while newbies need both control and coaching. External factors include, for example, competitors, the economy, and the laws. Here're the most important criteria that should influence your management style:

  • The type of business you manage. Banking or accounting do not have access to deviations from the scenario, while software development often requires a certain amount of autonomy and risky decisions.
  • Manager's personality and qualities. If the manager is not trusted or is not competent enough to make independent decisions, the staff will quickly understand this. Conversely, an autocratic style can be justified if the staff is satisfied with the decisions made.
  • Personalities and attitudes of the staff. Right team management can boost productivity and increase morale in the team. However, the team must comply with the rights and duties entrusted to them.

Each of these styles has their own strengths and weaknesses, and a manager often should use more than one style, depending on the situation. Managers' work is associated with a huge number of ambiguities and problems (not through their fault), and a proper management style makes their lives a little easier. As a project manager, what style do you use more often? And as a developer, which one would you prefer?

GOT Iron Throne

Riter project management style

Riter is a project management software designed for Agile teams. It provides developers with a high level of freedom of action. Developers can participate in task management, time estimation and tracking, while managers get all necessary tools for tracking progress and the current project state. We are confident that this democratic approach will allow managers to efficiently use the company's resources and avoid wasting of time on numerous meetings and disputes. We also believe that every developer in your team is a responsible person who can perform his or her duties without additional control. Moreover, we are currently working on Riter AI, which will soon release not only managers, but also developers from a number of routine duties, and minimize errors in scheduling deadlines.

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Riter development team